PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) - Although Amy Henslee and Tonya Howarth are dead, their bodies may provide evidence leading toward what really happened in the Van Buren County woods Jan. 24.
The only other person who knows the truth is Junior Lee Beebe Jr., the only suspect accused of killing the women. He's being held at the Van Buren County jail on murder charges.
On Friday, a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to send Beebe to trial.
Kent County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cohle performed the autopsies on Henslee and Howarth, who were shot to death and then buried in a wooded area of Bangor Township, police said.
Cohle will be in court Friday for Beebe's hearing. If a judge rules there's not enough evidence in the case against him, the charges would be dropped.
"I'm not trying to get somebody convicted, but I want to give the truth," Cohle told 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday. "A lot of the information that I have is not yet public."
The defense says Beebe only shot Howarth -- and Beebe told his family it was for self-defense purposes. Allegedly, Howarth shot Henslee in a jealous rage after she caught Beebe and Henslee having an affair in Beebe's trailer, near where the bodies were found.
But, is this story plausible?
An answer may lie in the physical evidence. Cohle can't say what he found, but said his testimony will be important.
"I suspect some of what will come out tommorow is going to be what I found when I did the autopsy, and does that correlate with what he told the police," Cohle said.
Still, his job isn't to help with a conviction.
"We do not work for the police," Cohle said. "Sometimes, I've been the one to do the autopsy and really, what I found exonerated somebody."
The medical examiner will use his expertise to try and paint a clearer picture of what really happened. He'll be presenting Friday, and likely before a jury; assuming the case moves to trial.
"I look at the jury when I'm testifying," Cohle said. "I try to. And if I see them nodding, like they're getting it, that's the satisfaction I get."
24 Hour News 8 was wondering -- if Beebe's story is true -- whether there would be gun powder or residue on Howarth's hands. The issue won't be a part of the testimony Friday, as investigators said they don't test for it. Cohle said gun powder goes everywhere when a weapon is fired. Even if it were on someone's hands, that doesn't mean he or she was a shooter.
We'll have all the latest Friday, on air and online.
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